COMPITA: Accountants at a Crossroad
Johann V. Salangsang, CPA, CMA, CSCA, MBA
Change is the new normal. During the 21st century, technological breakthroughs and digital revolution have been on a rapid pace. Different industries have come and gone, and one of the biggest factors is technology.
Technology has always been a double-edged sword. It is considered a disruptor and a great enabler at the same time. Technological disruptions would always be present, and it would mean that the old ways of doing things are replaced by efficient methods or processes through the use of technology. Accountancy is not an exception to these disruptions. Gone are the days when accountants prepare their books of accounts in paper journals, ledgers and worksheets. With technology, there are far more efficient ways of doing accounting work by using computers, technological equipment, accounting software's, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, etc.
Globalization is another major element when considering technological disruptions. Through the popularity explosion of the internet and the digital revolution, the global arena has been the target for most of the current markets. We have witnessed the creation of value of large companies like Google, Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, etc. through technology and globalization. The internet, which has been the avenue of information, is primary reason for interconnectivity around the world. Now, what do these changes have to do with the accountancy profession?
In the Philippines, major changes have been put into place through the revamping of the accountancy curriculum. Five years ago, there is only one major accountancy course. Presently, there are four major courses under the umbrella of accountancy namely: BS Accountancy, BS Management Accounting, BS Internal Auditing, and BS Accounting Information Systems. These changes have been aligned with the globalization trends and technological advancements for the continued relevance of the accountancy profession as partners of value creation across industries all over the world.
Compita, a latin word which means “at a crossroad” – a crucial point especially where a decision must be made or to be at a stage in one’s life – or the development of a country or an industry – when it is necessary to choose a course of action that will affect one’s future in significant and irrevocable ways.
Since the beginning of time, there has always been a battle between two Es – Evolution versus Extinction. Evolution towards a higher level will be for those who can adapt with changes. Extinction will be for those who cannot cope up with changes. Accountants, in compita, are at a critical point in this age of technological and digital revolution. With the growing prevalence of robotic process automation, data mining, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and quantum computing, we all still have a choice and a decision to make towards our paths as a person, as a profession, and as an industry.
Forward path, like evolution, gears towards development. And with technology as our enabler, accountants are more valuable than ever in being business partners. Not only that accountants are responsible for preparation of financial information, but also they are in position and the most appropriate group to seek counsel from regarding financial data and its analysis (i.e. descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analysis). Backward path points towards extinction and keeping the status quo and refusing to change would inevitably lead to irrelevance. Sideward paths, meaning moving astray and without having direction and clear goal, would eventually lead to extinction. We must therefore, as a profession, make a stand to keep up with globalization and technological changes. This is our “fight or flight” response to endure disruptions and avoid the ultimate doom of our profession.
Old lessons do not die. We all still recall the reputation of NOKIA as the premier maker of cellular phones but were unfortunate to not have survived their competition due to shift in technological changes.
The Nokia Lesson
During the press conference to announce NOKIA being acquired by Microsoft, Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”.
Nokia has been a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong in their business, however, the world changed too fast. Their opponents were too powerful.
They missed out on learning, they missed out on changing, and thus they lost the opportunity at hand to make it big. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, they lost their chance of survival.
The message of this story is, if you don’t change, you shall be removed from the competition. It’s not wrong if you don’t want to learn new things. However, if your thoughts and mindset cannot catch up with time, you will be eliminated.
Again, change is the new normal. Disruptive technologies would always be present. Accountants are not exempted from these disruptions. In addition to technology taking on a prominent role in our profession, the pace and frequency of continuous learning for accountants would be vastly different as well.
Adaptation is the key to the future. The next generation of accounting professionals is expected to possess sound knowledge underscored by a strong proficiency in accounting technologies. We all must be able to interpret and communicate financial data effectively to users of financial information. Opportunities present themselves, and therefore, we all have to exploit technology to greatly enable us in facing the challenges of tomorrow.
The future of Filipino Accountants in the United Arab Emirates and all over the world is here and it is brighter than ever.
The future is set today. We are the future. Embrace it!